TheChirurgeon’s Road to… 2021, Part 2: Final Prep for the Lone Star Open

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Welcome back, Dear Reader, to the second part of my ongoing progress blog for 2021. Last week I talked about my initial prep for the Lone Star Open and a few challenges that were still hanging in the air, and so I thought I’d resolve a few of those threads and post my final list before the event, along with where I netted out on hobby progress.

A Last-Minute List Audible

So it turns out that Blightlord Terminators and Deathshrouds are impossible to get right now. Despite ordering a box of each two weeks ago, my order is still processing on the GW site, and was Friday morning come the list submission deadline for the Lone Star Open. As a result, It was pretty clear I was going to have to make some changes to my list to accommodate what I’ve already got painted and ready to go. I’ve previously run a lot of plague marines with rhinos; while I don’t think they’re as good as deathshrouds in most cases a big squad of them can still do work and will be a bit more helpful doing Spread the Sickness or other actions in a pinch. I’ve also got a bunch of poxwalkers sitting around I can paint, so they’re a potential add here as well. Based on that, this is the updated list I made:

+++ Death Guard Battalion Detachment (-3 CP, 2,000 points) +++

Plague Company: Mortarion’s Anvil
Extra Relic (-1 CP)

Extra WL Trait (-1 CP)

HQ: Daemon Prince: w/wings, sword, talon, WARLORD: Rotten Constitution, RELIC: Supparating plate, POWERS: Miasma of Pestilence
HQ: Malignant plaguecaster, POWERS: Miasma of Pestilence, Curse of the Leper

TP: Plague marines x10: 2x flail, sigil, Champion: power fist
TP: Poxwalkers x10
TP: Poxwalkers x10

EL: Blightlord Terminators x10: 2x flail, 2x reaper autocannon + Combi-bolter, 4x axe + combi-bolter, 1x balesword + combi-bolter, Champion: Combi-bolter + Bubotic Axe, Plague Skull of Glothila (-1 CP)
EL: Deathshroud Terminators x3: Champion w/chimes
EL: Foul Blightspawn: Relic: Revolting stench-vats, Plaguechosen: arch-contaminator, viscous death
EL: Biologus Putrifier
EL: Tallyman

HS: PBC w/2x entropy cannon
HS: PBC w/2x entropy cannon

FA: Foetid Bloat-Drone w/Fleshmower

DT: Chaos Rhino

+++ 2,000 points, 9 CP +++

It’s not ideal – I don’t really want to break arms of my blightlords so I’m going with a balesword on one and adding two reaper autocannons – but I think overall the list is OK. It’s got some decent psychic punch, it’s got a nasty and difficult-to-shift blob of Blightlords (I kind of like the reapers at AP-2), who can be buffed with the Putrifier and the Tallyman, it can generate an extra 5 CP per game to play with, and most importantly, I’m pretty comfortable playing with it. I’ve logged a few dozen games with Death Guard now and I’m comfortable running these units – I know what they can do and how to use them, and that’s more important than having better tech most of the time.

Even with this updated list, I still had some work to do on the painting side – I’d need to paint 9 poxwalkers and 4 more blightlords to get everything set for the army. Fortunately, I’d already primed and basecoated a bunch of them, and I was able to knock the Blightlords out by Saturday, finishing the last one during the weekly Saturday night hobby zoom I do with Greg and some other peeps.

 

Ready to trudge up the table. Credit: Robert “TheChirurgeon” Jones

The Poxwalkers were faster to paint but I started on them later since they could also afford to be painted worse. Though in the end I’m pretty happy with them and they hold up well against my non-speed painted Poxwalkers. Maybe because I also quasi-speedpainted those. I finished the last base on the last poxwalker right as my friend Swiftblade pulled into my driveway for our practice game.

 

The key to great poxwalkers is to make them look wet. Slather the thing in ‘Ardcoat and Nurgle’s Rot until it looks so shiny it might slide out of your hands. Always go to battle with the wettest looking models

On that note, the next step was to run through a practice game for the army. I’m a big believer in the need to practice with an army and while I’m comfortable with Death Guard it’s always helpful to get an extra game in. Swiftblade is someone I play against on the reg and while he’s not such an amazing player he’s been improving significantly since we started meeting up to play last year. Also he has Drukhari and Adeptus Mechanicus armies that he’s been playing for years and as it turns out those are two armies that are very handy to be able to practice against. We’re also planning to carpool to some more events together later this year so he’s completely up for testing his army as well. I told him to bring the comp army he’s been fiddling with.

 

Battle Report: The Lone Star Open Practice Game

Something I’m hoping to put in every pre-event Road To Update is a practice game battle report, so expect to see more of these. I haven’t been to a proper tournament in over a year so generally speaking my goals for the practice game were less about winning and more about getting back up to speed. I wanted to do the following:

  • Play a game with the army I’m bringing to the Lone Star Open
  • Try out the Lone Star Open terrain guidelines
  • Get in one more game against Drukhari
  • Finish a 2,000 point game in 2.5 hours

On the topic of that second one, the LSO has player-placed terrain. The photos of the potential layouts look OK… two are decent, while the third is pretty dire and none of them are quite as densely packed as I’d like but I can make them work. I don’t have exact copies of the terrain they’ll be using but I can replicate the basics pretty well, giving each player one big U-shaped LOS blocker, a piece of dense area terrain, and a few other small ruins/obstacles. I’m not a big fan of player-placed terrain but it did give me a decent idea of how I could do that.

Swiftblade’s List

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [13 PL, 220pts] ++

Obsession: Kabal of the Black Heart: Thirst for Power

HQ: Archon [5 PL, 85pts]: Hatred Eternal, Huskblade, Overlord, Splinter Pistol, The Djin Blade, Warlord: Splintered Genius

TP: Kabalite Trueborn [8 PL, 135pts]: 6x Kabalite Trueborn: 6x Splinter Rifle, Kabalite Trueborn w/ Heavy Weapon: Dark Lance, 2x Kabalite Trueborn w/ Special Weapon: Blaster, Trueborn Sybarite: Splinter Rifle

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [64 PL, 1,130pts, 12CP] ++

Obsession: The Dark Creed: Distillers of Fear

HQ: Drazhar [8 PL, 145pts]

TP: Wracks [3 PL, 45pts]: Acothyst: Electrocorrosive Whip, 4x Wracks: 4x Wrack Blade
TP: Wracks [3 PL, 45pts]: Acothyst: Electrocorrosive Whip, 4x Wracks: 4x Wrack Blade

EL: Incubi [4 PL, 80pts]: 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive, Klaivex: Klaive
EL: Incubi [4 PL, 80pts]: 4x Incubi: 4x Klaive, Klaivex: Klaive

HS: Cronos [12 PL, 245pts]: Cronos: Spirit Probe, Spirit Vortex, 2x Cronos: Spirit Vortex

DT: Raider [6 PL, 100pts]: Coven, Dark Lance, Grisly Trophies
DT: Raider [6 PL, 100pts]: Coven, Dark Lance, Grisly Trophies
DT: Raider [6 PL, 100pts]: Coven, Dark Lance, Grisly Trophies
DT: Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Coven, Dark Lance
DT: Raider [6 PL, 95pts]: Coven, Dark Lance

++ Patrol Detachment 0CP (Aeldari – Drukhari) [30 PL, 650pts, -4CP] ++

Obsession: Cult of Strife: The Spectacle of Murder

+ Stratagems +

Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]
Stratagem: Prizes from the Dark City [-1CP]

HQ: Succubus [3 PL, 60pts, -1CP]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Competitive Edge, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition, The Triptych Whip, Agoniser & Archite Glaive
HQ: Succubus [3 PL, 60pts, -1CP]: 1 – Adrenalight (Combat Drug), Dark Lotus Toxin, Precision Blows, Razorflails, Stratagem: Tolerated Ambition

TP: Wyches [6 PL, 120pts]: 2 – Grave Lotus (Combat Drug), Hekatrix: Power sword, Splinter Pistol, 7x Wych: 7x Hekatarii Blade, 7x Plasma Grenades, 7x Splinter Pistol, Wych w/ Hydra Gauntlets: Hydra Gauntlets, Wych w/ Shardnet and Impaler: Shardnet and Impaler
TP: Wyches [6 PL, 120pts]: 2 – Grave Lotus (Combat Drug), Hekatrix: Power sword, Splinter Pistol, 7x Wych: 7x Hekatarii Blade, 7x Plasma Grenades, 7x Splinter Pistol, Wych w/ Hydra Gauntlets: Hydra Gauntlets, Wych w/ Shardnet and Impaler: Shardnet and Impaler

FA: Reavers [6 PL, 145pts]: 4 – Painbringer (Combat Drug): Arena Champion: Heat Lance, Power sword, 4x Reaver: 4x Bladevanes, 4x Splinter Pistol, 4x Splinter Rifle, Reaver with special weapon (up to 1 for 3 models): Heat Lance
FA: Reavers [6 PL, 145pts]: 4 – Painbringer (Combat Drug): Arena Champion: Heat Lance, Power sword, 4x Reaver: 4x Bladevanes, 4x Splinter Pistol, 4x Splinter Rifle, Reaver with special weapon (up to 1 for 3 models): Heat Lance

++ Total: [107 PL, 2,000pts, 8CP] ++

For some additional context, here’s Swiftblade’s own thoughts on the list.

Swiftblade: As one of Rob’s friends helping him on his road to many different Warhammer GT’s this year, my job is to do two things: come up with good music for the drives to the Warhammer opens, and give him some good games to practice his lists against. So I went to the Drukhari lab and tried to cook up something fierce.

What this list brings to the table is a lot of the extremely mobile close combat threat that Drukhari excel at, with the Incubi, Wyches, and it’s four close combat monster characters, as well as some great speed with the reavers as a toolbox unit. The Cronos in Dark Creed provide a great angle to try and snipe off characters and grisly trophies on some of the raiders make for some extreme leadership debuffs that can be handy for either forcing morale or getting Tormentors to work. Before playing Rob I had tried this list against another friend of mine to great success, so the game today was about solidifying my feelings about it. Normally, I go much heavier on kabalite warriors, but swapping to a heavier focus on Wyches found success in my game earlier so I decided to stick with it and see how I felt.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this list played and how I did today. I’m likely going to keep this as my go-to list for the Warhammer Open in Austin later this year and hope to get more practice in it as well. Having so much extremely mobile sources of close combat threat opens up a lot of tricky play that Drukhari excel at, and the squad of three Cronos continue to be just aces. I had a great game with Rob, I was happy that I could give him a nice challenge for his list that he is brining to the Lone Star GT to cut it’s teeth on. Looking forward to more great games with Rob on Rob’s Warhammer GT palooza!

 

The Mission: Overrun

This isn’t my favorite mission for the LSO terrain style, since Dawn of War deployment makes it really difficult to hide a lot of the units I needed to keep hidden to prevent getting blown off the table by enemy shooting on turn 1. I dropped my big ruin in the middle of the table and tried to pile some of the other ruins as best I could around the other two objectives. The plan was to split my PBCs on either side of the table and then have my big death star of blightlords in the middle of the table. Swiftblade split his army on either side, giving him lots of room to flank around the edges of the table with raiders, in a similar move to what Archon Skari talked about in our Keys to the Spire series.

The Secondary Objectives

Overrun gives me 6 objectives to potentially score for Spread the Sickness, but they’re all pretty far apart and it’s unlikely my poxwalkers are gonna cross the table to get them so it’ll either be up to my Rhino full of plague marines or I just need to aim for scoring 9 points for the secondary. I don’t love that, but 9 points is still above the average for secondary objectives and it’s hard to prevent me from scoring at least 6 on it so I took Spread the Sickness as my first secondary. Drukhari can hit really hard and my games against them tend to end with very few units left on the table so I’m not a big fan of To the Last in these games – instead I opted for Grind Them Down. Drukhari hit hard but are pretty fragile and while a lot of value is in their ability to trade 100-point units for 300-point ones, if I can turn some of those trades into 3 victory points, that’s a big upside. Finally I didn’t have a lot of great options for my last secondary – Swiftblade could only give up 7 points for No Mercy and 8 for Bring it Down and both of those would be pretty tough to score anyways. I opted for Assassinate since it’s a foregone conclusion that Drazhar and the Succubi will be In My Shit early on and that’s 9 relatively easy points right there.

On Swiftblade’s side, taking Assassinate against my five characters is kind of a no-brainer, and Engage on All Fronts is a pretty reliable secondary for him as well. He’s also got Wracks in his backfield that are tough to shift and on a mission with three objectives you can reach on turn 1 Raise the Banners High is pretty easy to max out, particularly against an army that’s unlikely to make it to your deployment zone.

Deployment

The goal is, as always – to hide as much of the army as possible, assuming I’m going to have to go second against an army that can shoot even PBCs off the table trivially.

dense terrain, exactly as intended by the designers

On the right side of the table, I’m using the ruins area terrain – which are Dense and Difficult Terrain – to hid my PBC and Rhino. The PBC will keep a back tread on that terrain base all game in order to maintain a -1 to be hit. This is something that will really boost its longevity against a barrage of dark lances and shredders.

a slow, rolling bally of death

In the middle of the table I’ve got my death star, basically the Blightlords getting regular buffs from the Tallyman, Daemon Prince and Putrifier, with the Blightspawn sitting around as backup to make things fight last. Swiftblade has some ways to ignore Look Out, Sir, so it’s important I keep the Deathshrouds handy and within 3″ of the smaller characters – they don’t have invulnerable saves and will eat shit quick if I have to deal with dark lances coming their way.

that mortar fires flaming balls of garbage

Then on the left side I’ve got some poxwalkers to spread the sickness and potentially screen my other PBC. This PBC is a bit exposed so I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to do that but this is the best I’m going to be able to do with this deployment and putting an attractive unit on that side of the table at least gives me a bit of a speed bump that I can respond to if Swiftblade drops something on my flank.

We roll off for first turn and Swiftblade wins. Going second against Drukhari sucks but this is a good test.

TheChirurgeon: You may notice my Bloat-drone is not in any of these photos. That’s because I completely forgot to bring it to the table, and played the game down about 135 points. Let’s pretend that I did this as a good training exercise and not because I’m a huge dipshit.

Swiftblade plays it pretty cool on his turn 1, opting to not just rush everything into my army – this is a bit of a first for him, and it’s a smart move on his part. I’ve only got a little long-ranged shooting and it takes a bit of luck to destroy more than one raider. He pushes one of his Reaver units up to mid-table to get good shots on my PBC in dense terrain, then uses Fire and Fade to drop back with them out of range. Meanwhile he puts his raiders in position to set up some turn 2 Advance + Charge moves on my left flank, where the PBC and poxwalkers are unprotected. I manage to weather most of the storm, taking 6 damage on my PBC in the open from a dark lance, but the one in dense terrain dodges the heat lances. Swiftblade also raises banners on all three of his objectives, starting a string of 3-point turns that’ll end up maxing out the objective.

On my turn I have the tallyman bless the Blightlords and push them forward, just into range for the Reavers. The Plaguecaster drops Miasma of Pestilence on them and uses Curse of the Leper to score 4 mortal wounds on the Reavers before the Reaper Autocannons finish them off with 6 more damage. I don’t even have to shoot the bolters. I have my PBCs throw shots at Raiders but end up whiffing on them completely and to add insult to injury Swiftblade uses Agents of Vect on Disgusting Force, something I’m using most turns of the game to get extra splash damage off the mortar. I also end up corrupting the left objective with my poxwalkers, and lose 3 in the process. The upside is that I killed a single unit of Reavers to Swiftblade’s 0, scoring me 3 points for Grind Them Down. Also I didn’t move my left flank PBC, something that could likely end up being a mistake.

not a good sign

Yep, I was right. Swiftblade opens Turn 2 by popping his Incubi and Drazhar out of their Raiders and using the Drukhari’s Turn 2 Power from Pain to advance and charge them across the table and into my PBC and poxwalkers, and sends in his Reavers for extra measure. They dispatch both pretty easily, but get a great taste of The Bullshit when I spend 2 CP to force the PBC to explode. The explosion drops 2 damage on Drazhar, kills 3 Incubi in the squad fighting the PBC, takes out a Reaver, and kills another in the squad that fought the poxwalkers. Swiftblade has all four table quarters, so scores 3 for Engage on All Fronts and another 3 for having Banners raised, plus 10 for the primary objective. He’s also fought me off my left objective, denying me 5 points for Hold 3 on primary in my turn.

Catch these hands, Drazhar

Alright, time for some retaliation. This is basically a war on two fronts: on the left size, the Blightlords press forward, shoot out most of the Incubi, then pair with the Daemon Prince to wipe them all out along with Drazhar. On the right front, my Plague Marines climb out of their rhino and take out both Raiders with some ranged support from the remaining PBC. Pushing forward with the plague marines there exposes them to wyches and enemy firepower, but I need to be aggressive here in order to keep enemy units off my right-side objective or else I’ll lose the five points I’m getting for Hold 2 on Primary, which isn’t acceptable at the moment. One Incubi survives my assault with some lucky rolls and so by the end of the turn I’ve cleared out four units to Swiftblade’s two, scoring me another 3 points for Grind Them Down as my remaining poxwalkers Spread the Sickness to my middle objective and I score 3 points for Assassinate for killing Drazhar. End of round 2 the score is 14-16 (I’m down 2).

ah jeez that’s not good

Turn 3 continues our punch-counterpunch battle. Swiftblade pulls another 10 on primary and 3 for Banners, then moves up his surviving wyches and Succubus on my right while piling out his other unit of wyches and succubus on my left. The Cronos also move into position to wreck my plague marines’ day. He gets off charges with both. One of these will go very well; the other will be against my Blightlords.

More chaos ensues

Swiftblade’s Succubus unfortunately biffs both of her charges and is stuck watching as the battle unfolds on my left flank. Swiftblade smartly takes on the blightlords first, who lose 3 models to the Wyches’ bullshit as Miasma of Pestilence puts in real work. I respond by using Counter-Attack on the 5 Plague Marines who survived the Cronos’ shooting to fight the Wyches on my right flank. They do OK throwing out extra attacks with Trench Fighters but some good luck keeps the unit around with 1 model. That’s not normally a huge issue but it hurts me for Grind Them Down and also the Cronos just tear through the Plague Marines who survived and brings 3 wyches back to life, though he’d later lose all three to morale and keep one model alive. The Blightlords completely shithouse the Wyches and the Daemon Prince kills the last Incubi but doesn’t manage to dent the Raider, who’s hanging out over here to give my units -2 Ld with Trophy racks. The Blightlords manage to pass their Morale test and on my turn I wipe out the Raider and the Succubus on my left flank while on my right flank the PBC kills the other Succubus with a Disgusting Force mortar and kills a Cronos with its Entropy Cannons while Mortal wounds from the Plaguecaster and a sewage hose shot from the Blightspawn kills another and does 2 damage to the third Cronos. That’s enough to score me Grind Them Down again, plus I scored 10 on primary for Hold Two, and I’ve killed two more characters for another 6 points on Assassinate. That’s a very respectable 19-point turn and now the score is 33-32 and I’m ahead by 1 but sitting on better (but dispersed) board position. My goal is to get back to scoring 10 per turn for primary and keeping ahead in kill tallies for the Grind Them Down point.

That Cronos is gonna be a problem

On his Turn 4 Swiftblade’s major goal is to keep all three of his objectives and prevent me from scoring primary points. He doesn’t really have a path to killing my characters at this point – I’m going to lock him out on Assassinate – but he can reliably score Engage for three quarters if he keeps his Cronos in play and potentially all four if he gets creative with his Raider. Instead, he plays it safe with the Raider and puts it on top of his building to try and snipe my PBC. It won’t get there, but his Cronos moves up and charges into my Poxwalkers and PBC, and in doing so is able to contest my right side objective, putting me down on the count again for primary on my turn. Swiftblade played a great primary game all game, pulling out 10 each turn while keeping me on 5 a couple of turns and forcing me to make up the difference on secondary objectives.


Pivotal Moment: Fighting the Cronos

Ok so here’s the thing about the Cronos: Having it in combat with my Poxwalkers is incredibly dangerous. Every body it kills is a wound it can heal and if it gets back up to full, it can just bring back a full fuckin Cronos. As such it’s super important that I try and take some wounds off it if I can. I spend 1 CP to Fire Overwatch with the PBC, and the mortar takes another wound off it. The Cronos can’t pull off its charge without getting within 6″ of my Blightspawn, so I can get off the first fight. I use Mutagenic Strain to power up the Poxwalkers, hoping to drop 4 mortal wounds on it with some lucky rolls – with this Stratagem, every 6 I roll to hit does a mortal wound to the target and every 1 causes a mortal wound to my unit. I roll 18 attacks for my 9 poxwalkers and score… 0 sixes and 5 ones, dropping me to 4 models in the unit, but I end up doing 1 damage to the Cronos. here’s the catch, though: The Cronos can only kill four models now, and can only heal itself back up to full, rather than getting back a Poxwalker. So in this case even abysmal luck still works out in my favor. As luck would have it, the Cronos then whiffed its attacks and only killed one poxwalker.


On his turn Swiftblade scores 10 primary points plus 2 for Engage on All Fronts and 3 for Raise the Banners High. On my turn I mange to wipe out the Cronos using psychic powers from the Malignant Plaguecaster and then push some units toward mid-table. I use The Dead Walk Again to get back 5 poxwalkers so I can hit one more objective with Spread the Sickness. I only score 5 on primary, plus another 3 for Grind Them Down. The score is now 41-47 and I’m down 6 points.

I’ve got some units left but those blightlords are far out of position and that Cronos is a problem.

On to Round 5. Swiftblade doesn’t have a ton of options here – he can’t really take out my remaining units and he’s already down 1 on the count so the best he can hope is to tie my Attrition Score. He makes an attempt with his last Raider, but my final Deathshroud makes his invulnerable save. He drops back with his three remaining units to keep the three objectives he’s holding – at this point, him winning depends on keeping all three objectives, since if I kill one of the units on any one objective, I’ll score 15 on the final turn for primary and take the lead. This is an all-in push for me and I have 2 CP left thanks to the Tallyman clocking me one more on turn 5. I Advance the Plaguecaster, spending 1 CP to re-roll. a 2 advance into a 3 to get within 18″ of the Wracks on the middle objective, and advance the DP as well. Then I whiff all three psychic powers, including a re-roll on Curse of the Leper to do zero mortal wounds to the Wracks. Whomp whomp. Fortunately, the Reaper Autocannons, 2 combi-bolters, and the PBC still have range on them and they’re able to clear the unit out with some shots to spare thanks to a 5 on the mortar shots. My Poxwalkers flip the last objective on my half of the table and that wraps up the game. I’ll score another 3 points for Grind Them Down and I score 15 for the primary thanks to Hold 2, Hold 3, and Hold More. Swiftblade scores another 3 for Banners at the end of the game to max that one out and that brings our totals to 65-63 before hobby scores, a narrow Death Guard victory.

Result: Death Guard Victory, 65-63

Phew! I’m really happy with how that game went, and very happy we were able to close it out in just under 2.5 hours, start to finish. Swifblade played his best game yet, and really kept me on my back foot with primaries all game. I think charging the blightlords with Wyches was a mistake overall, but pulling them to that side of the table left me far out of position over there and struggling to make them work. I was really happy with the Reaper autocannons in this game – they were solid against the Reavers and having some extra range and AP-2 shooting was a big help. The Plaguecaster also put in good work most of the game and I’m pretty happy with the large unit of plague marines even – they were able to take out two raiders and a unit of wyches before being laid low and that was just enough to earn their points back. Having larger, tougher squads also works well for a more Grind Them Down-focused strategy.

Of course, after the game I realized I had left out my Bloat-Drone, which wasn’t ideal but also made me feel even better about the list. Having that idiot to protect the left flank PBC would have been great and having him around to play aggressively against Swiftblade’s own objectives would have helped, but then he also could have just eaten shit from some dark lances early on and died.

These wonderful lads, filled with Glorious Purpose

 

Next Time: the Lone Star Open

That’s it for the prep work! Now it’s off to the Lone Star Open to get some games in and meet up with people, including the inimitable Don Hooson, who will almost certainly win more games than me with a list that somehow runs 12 Defilers. I’ll be back again next week with a tournament report and an update on what’s next for my bloated, biley boys. In the meantime, if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.com.

 

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